Dextroamphetamine: Physiological effects

Last modified: Saturday, 30. May 2009 - 3:21 pm

In addition to their trademark effects on mood and mental status, dextroamphetamines significantly influence the cardiovascular system. They increase the heart rate and boost blood pressure. They are also weak bronchodilators — meaning they open the bronchial tubes (air passages) of the lungs. In fact, one of the early uses for dextroamphetamines was asthma treatment.
Dextroamphetamine also acts as an anoretic agent, suppressing appetite. Formulas popular in the 1970s, such as Obetrol, were marketed as weight loss drugs.
Harmful side effects
Common side effects of dextroamphetamine include, but are not limited to:
• difficulty sleeping
• dry mouth
• unintentional weight loss
• headache
• nervousness
• rash
• picking at the skin
• rise in blood pressure and pulse
• diarrhea or constipation
When used for medical purposes, dextroamphetamines are prescribed at the lowest possible dosage. The dosage is then raised gradually until the desired therapeutic effect is achieved. All amphetamines are highly addictive. Tolerance to the drug builds slowly but steadily. Tolerance occurs when it takes more and more of the drug to produce the same Physiological effects. With amphetamines, it may also develop unevenly, with some effects of the drug weakening before others.
Symptoms of overdose may include panic or anxiety attacks, hallucinations, confusion, tremor or shaking, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), vomiting, collapse of the circulatory system, stomach cramps, convulsions, and coma. Overdose can be fatal.
Dextroamphetamine can make tics worse, so its use may not be recommended for someone with Tourette’s syndome or another tic disorder. Anyone who suffers from hypertension, arteriosclerosis, hyperthyroidism, or glaucoma should also not take dextroamphetamines.
Animal studies show that amphetamine abuse may cause birth defects. There are no controlled studies of this effect in humans; however it is known that pregnant women who are amphetamine-dependent may give birth prematurely and are more likely to have infants with a low birth weight. Amphetamines cross the placenta, so a baby born to an amphetamine abuser may experience withdrawal symptoms once the drug begins to leave the infant’s system.
Amphetamines also pass into a nursing mother’s milk. For this reason, women taking amphetamines should avoid breastfeeding. Dextroamphetamines are not recommended for the treatment of ADHD in children under the age of 3, as the drugs have not been sufficiently tested in this age group. In addition, there are few long-term follow-up studies on the long-term effects of extended dextroamphetamine use by pediatric ADHD patients.
Long-term health effects
Chronic dextroamphetamine use and abuse can cause sexual dysfunction (impotence). Because of the stress amphetamines place on the cardiovascular system, heart attack, cardiovascular shock, and cerebral hemorrhage may also occur with chronic use.
Symptoms of dextroamphetamine abuse include insomnia, irritability, hyperactivity, and psychosis. Psychosis is characterized by radical changes in personality, impaired functioning, and a distorted sense of reality. Hallucinations, delusions, and feelings of paranoia are also common features of psychosis.
Withdrawal from chronic amphetamine abuse can be long and difficult. Also, it results in depression and at least two of the following symptoms: fatigue, vivid dreams, irregular sleep patterns, increased appetite, and psychomotor problems.

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